Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Environment and Society

Committee Chair(s)

Mark W. Brunson


Mark W. Brunson


Roslynn McCann


Anna B. Miller


Frank Howe


Eric Thacker


Most of the public lands within the Intermountain West are administered under a multiple-use mandate which emphasizes striking a balance in land use planning among the potentially competing values of livestock grazing, timber production, water supply, extraction of valuable fossil fuels, wildlife, and wilderness. This research sought to dive into a few of these competing values that involve large herbivores that compete for limited forage resources such as livestock and wildlife, on public lands, but also touched upon wildlife on private lands. The first component of research looked specifically at the coexistence of wildlife and livestock on both public and private lands and the conflict that arises between those interests. It outlined the perspectives of wildlife managers, agricultural producers, and boundary spanners (individuals who link wildlife managers and agricultural producers). The second component dove into the impacts of the decades-long megadrought that has gripped the Intermountain West and the ecological, societal, and economic impacts of this drought on wildlife, wildlife managers, and livestock producers on this working/wild landscape. Lastly, the final component looked specifically at past and future bison restoration efforts within the state of Utah and the conflict that exists within such efforts, especially in an era of extensive drought conditions. The qualitative method utilized in the research presented encompasses phenomenology. Phenomenology attempts to describe the common lived experiences of a variety of individuals; in this research, three major stakeholders were interviewed (wildlife managers, boundary spanners and agricultural producers/large landowners). The overarching themes that emerged related to (1) small improvements that state wildlife management agencies might institute to work more effectively with producers and large landowners to manage potential and existing conflicts (2) that adaptive management strategies much to be used to deal to depredation and damage incurred by private landowners and grazing permittees to incentivize their tolerance of wildlife and to acknowledge those bearing the “burden of conservation” (3) participation of stakeholders in the governance of natural resources, at a community-based level being the most palatable engagement strategy (4) transparency within every management decision is imperative utilizing the best-available science and lastly (5) that we must acknowledge the perspectives and values systems of all stakeholders, understanding that we all have a claim in the resources provided on a working/wild landscape.